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Br J Pharmacol. 2009 Aug;157(7):1128-41. doi: 10.1111/j.1476-5381.2009.00257.x. Epub 2009 Jun 5.

Application of metabonomic analytical techniques in the modernization and toxicology research of traditional Chinese medicine.

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College of Food and Bioengineering, South China University of Technology, Guangzhou, China.


In the recent years, a wide range of metabonomic analytical techniques are widely used in the modern research of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). At the same time, the international community has attached increasing importance to TCM toxicity problems. Thus, many studies have been implemented to investigate the toxicity mechanisms of TCM. Among these studies, many metabonomic-based methods have been implemented to facilitate TCM toxicity investigation. At present, the most prevailing methods for TCM toxicity research are mainly single analysis techniques using only one analytical means. These techniques include nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS), and liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS), etc.; with these techniques, some favourable outcomes have been gained in the toxic reaction studies of TCM, such as the action target organs assay, the establishment of action pattern, the elucidation of action mechanism and the exploration of action material foundation. However, every analytical technique has its advantages and drawbacks, no existing analytical technique can be versatile. Multi-analysed techniques can partially overcome the shortcomings of single-analysed techniques. Combination of GC-MS and LC-MS metabolic profiling approaches has unravelled the pathological outcomes of aristolochic acid-induced nephrotoxicity, which can not be achieved by single-analysed techniques. It is believed that with the further development of metabonomic analytical techniques, especially multi-analysed techniques, metabonomics will greatly promote TCM toxicity research and be beneficial to the modernization of TCM in terms of extending the application of modern means in the TCM safety assessment, assisting the formulation of TCM safety norms and establishing the international standards indicators.

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